About me

F. Heath Damron

F. Heath Damron, PhD in Microbiology


The goal of my laboratory is to develop next generation pertussis vaccines.

My Master’s graduate research started in environmental microbiology with Dr. Charles Somerville where I worked with bacteria that degrade the carcinogen, vinyl chloride.  During my PhD I worked with Dr. Hongwei Yu in the School of Medicine at Marshall University.  In Dr. Yu’s, lab I focused on proteolytic regulation of alginate production.   My postdoctoral studies were funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to study with Dr. Joanna Goldberg at University of Virginia from 2010-2013.  From 2013 to October 2014, I worked under the direction of Dr. Erik Hewlett at University of Virginia.  The Hewlett lab focused on Bordetella pertussis and the adenylate cyclase toxin (ACT).

In November 2014, I began my appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology in the School of Medicine at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.  The main focus of the laboratory is PIA and PIAAMV plates arranged into FHDto understand B. pertussis infections to develop a next-generation vaccine.  We are revisiting the use of known B. pertussis antigens as well as identifying new antigens.  We utilize classical microbiology, biochemistry, molecular cloning, standard biomedical protocols, in vivo imaging (IVIS), next generation sequencing, and bioinformatics to address our research questions.  While B. pertussis is the focus of the lab, I collaborate with Dr. Mariette Barbier on projects involving P. aeruginosa including vaccine development.

In January 2018, the Vaccine Development center at WVU was formed.  The VDc is supported by a WV HEPC Research Challenge Award from 2018 until 2022.  As Director of the VDc, we will support vaccine research, train the next generation of scientists, and develop partnerships with industry leaders.

Learn more about the Vaccine Development center at WVU:  http://medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/vaccine-development-center   

Outside of the Laboratory

Heath Damron on the Upper Gauley River, WVHeath Damron on Mill Creek Falls, Anstead, WV

I am an avid outdoors-man.  Whitewater kayaking is my primary passion.  While at Marshall University I founded the Marshall University Whitewater Club and taught people about the sport that I love.  The creeks and rivers of West Virginia are my favorite place to go on my adventures.  I also greatly enjoy fishing, hunting, rock climbing, mountain biking, riding motorcycles, and working on my cabin in the woods. In addition to my outdoor adventures, I also love to travel to see new places and experience new things.

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